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on the hunt: speakers under $1500 - please read entire post before commenting (thanks)

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hello friends!

I am currently looking for speakers for my home office system, with a budget of around $1200 - $1500. There are a number of speakers in this range obviously, yet I have several limiting factors that are making the search more difficult than I'd thought and so I have come here to all for help.

So, what are these limiting factors? I am glad you asked! Here comes a list, and please keep in mind, suggestions must meet all of the qualifications, not just some ...

1. No powered speakers. I already have a very capable amp at 40wpc in triode mode, 80wpc in ultra linear mode. The room in question is 9x12 with 10 foot ceilings, so that is plenty of power. Most listening will be done from a nearfield position as well, with a moderate amount from a couch that is 10 feet away.

2. Desktop or bookshelf designs are preferred. I will be putting these on short stands (heavy bricks actually) to reduce vibrations, but ultimately, they will live on my desk. The width and depth therefore should not exceed 11 and 10 inches respectively. Some shorter models of floor-standing speakers might work, but only if they are less than 26 inches high and no more than 15 inches wide and 15 inches deep.

3. A speaker + sub combo is fine, as long as the sub isn't enormous and provided that the total cost of the system does not exceed $1500.

So far I've looked at all of these, and have only definitively ruled out the ones with a star next to them. Ones I am on the fence about will have a ** and explanation.

Magnepan Mini Maggie** - I've been told my amp is not powerful enough to use these, probably even for nearfield use. A suitably fast sub would be needed too, making this combo probably too expensive. I'd love to be wrong though.
KEF LS50** - See comments on Magnepan + sub above
Zu Audio Cube + 3rd party sub** - May be too large for my desk. Also, see comments on Magnepan + sub above.
Zu Omen Bookshelf
PSB Imagine B + 3rd party sub
Klipsch Heresy
Decware DM945 + 3rd party sub
Parker 95 Signature + 3rd party sub
Loth-X Ion 1, possibly Ion 3 + 3rd party sub
B&W CM5 + 3rd party sub

I have not started looking at complementary subwoofers for any options above, so any thoughts on this topic are appreciated. Again, I only have $1500 to spend in total so that would have to be considered when a sub is introduced into the picture.

I have done tons of research on this stuff, but I don't live near any hi-fi stores, so listening first is going top be a challenge. Ideally I'd like to have a shortlist and make a day trip listening and pick something up that day. For some of these options that will be impossible, so if anyone has any of the speakers above and can comment, I'd greatly appreciate it!

Thanks for looking, I'm excited to see your suggestions biggrin.gif
post #2 of 12
Ascend Acoustics Sierra-1 bookshelves. They are .5" wider than your specifications, but thought that they might work anyway. There's a long discussion thread about the Sierra line over at AVS if you want to learn more.

For a sub, either the SVS PB-1000 or SVS SB-1000, depending on whether or not you are a bass head who wants to pressurize the room or just need bass in a compact sub. One advantage of the SB-1000 is that it has a built in 80hz high pass/low pass crossover with the line out pass through, given you another crossover option than simply the low end roll off of the speakers. SVS Sound is an Internet direct vendor, and the price performance value of their subs is generally as good or better than traditional speaker company subs that are twice the price MSRP.
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Awesome, great suggestion and I'm reading about them now. Do you think I would be better off with the upgrades? I will get them with shielding since they would be used right next to my computer monitors.
post #4 of 12
To be honest, I haven't heard them, so I don't know for sure about how worth it the upgrades are. But I have the lower model CBM-170 SEs from Ascend as my desktop monitors, which sound absolutely great for the money. One day I will buy the Sierra-1s based on what people have owned both have said smily_headphones1.gif

From what I understand, you can do the NRT upgrade yourself later on if you decide you want it. It's just a tweeter switch out. So you could stay in your budget right now and still get the sub.

I don't think you need the shielding for LCD/LED monitors. You might call and ask Ascend.

Also, definitely check into SVS Sound subwoofers. Their reputation is as good as Ascend's, but for high quality subwoofers.
Edited by cel4145 - 4/13/13 at 9:50pm
post #5 of 12

Ascend Sierras are nice. But my first recommendation for nearfield would be the Neumann KH120 studio monitors, no sub required.

post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Yeah, but as I mentioned in the OP, I don't want powered speakers, I already have a better amp than would ever be available on speakers like that.
post #7 of 12

I don't see Paradigm on the list. You might want to audition the Reference line of bookshelves. I believe the bigger one, the Studio 20, is about $1000. I only have direct experience with the Signature line, but I've seen good reviews for the Reference equipment as well.




Sound and Vision also posted a monitor shoot-out that you might be interested in.




Quite below your intended price range, but some of them could punch above their weight class.


As for the sub, I would buy the speakers first and try them out in your room before you decide on whether to purchase one or not. You might not need it since the speakers will be used in a fairly small room and you'll be listening nearfield.

post #8 of 12

Totem Arro could be another choice for your room... worth an audition.

post #9 of 12

I'm also reminded of Sonus faber - another good maker that recently unveiled their Venere line. The Venere 1.5 are the monitors and I believe retail for about $1200. I've only heard the Cremona Elipsas, which are huge floorstanders and retail for about $20k. Their overall character was non-fatiguing and musical, with a hint of mid-bass emphasis. If the house sound carries over, you can expect the Venere 1.5 to be supremely listenable for long periods, though it could be too much of a good thing when paired with your tube amp. Still, might be worthwhile to audition.



post #10 of 12

Recommend you look at Tekton Design speakers.  Website is www.tektondesign.com In particular, the model OB45 ($600), model 65t ($600) and the model 81t ($649).  I have a pair of Tekton Wide Baffle speakers (no longer in production) in a 2nd bedroom system; they are excellent.  Tekton only sells online, their speakers are very efficient (92db or better), so you need very little power to drive them and they are beautifully made. 

post #11 of 12

more choices in this nicely made speakers guide... 

post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thank you everyone for your suggestions. In the end I tried two speakers out. Due to my satisfaction with my definitive home theater rig, I'd made up my mind to try the Mythos lineup. I was able to find set of Mythos STS and Mythos Two + my existing HT sub (moved the Polk into the living room, it matches fine with the HT setup, and the sub for that fit much better in the small office.

First I tried the full tower STS, but even though it was awesome, it is too much for the room and needs to be too loud in here to enjoy, I did hope it would work because I'd found a pair that fit my budget and fit the room due to the relatively small footprint compared to most towers. I really like the design with the integrated sub as well, it is a very cool touch. That lead to trying the Mythos Two which is classified as a satellite speaker. It's got two 4.5 inch drivers flanking a metal dome tweeter in d'appolito configuration and two bass radiators. It's got a small footprint on my desktop, but it is quite tall at about 25". The included glass bases are solid and heavy though and include rounded spikes to dampen vibrations on the tabletop. With these guys plus sub dialed in at around 10, I'm getting awesome sound. They are engaging, holographic and extremely transparent, and dynamics feel lively and fast. Overall I would characterize the setup as neutral, but still fun.

The best part of this whole package is that it came out to cost about $380 for the pair, and no need to invest in a new sub. That leaves me $1100 to play with to upgrade my phono stage.

Anyway, anyone looking for a desktop speaker setup, you may want to take a look at these. Partnered with a sub they get the job done and look pretty cool doing it. They've been discontinued, so that means you can pick up a pair on the cheap, they originally had an msrp of $549/each and are in no way junky or poorly put together. The bass radiators are not a gimmick or a joke either. They look very cool next to my Apple Cinema Displays too!
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Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Cables, Power, Tweaks, Speakers, Accessories (DBT-Free Forum) › on the hunt: speakers under $1500 - please read entire post before commenting (thanks)